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Three Truths About Suffering

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.
–James 1:2-3

In James 1:2-3, the apostle gave us several truths about suffering. First, James said suffering is certain. He said, “Consider it all joy . . . when you encounter various trials.” That word “encounter” literally means “ambushed.” Have you ever felt ambushed by trials? In 1 Peter 4:12, Peter said, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you.” When many Christians run into a problem, they say, “Why would God allow this to happen to me?” Peter was saying, “Do not think it is unusual when you encounter problems. It is part of living in this world.”

Second, suffering is varied. James talked about “various trials” (1:2). That word “various” comes from the same Greek word from which we get “polka dot.” Suffering comes in different shapes and sizes. Sometimes our suffering is a direct result of our faith in Christ. We get reprimanded or shunned for taking an unpopular but biblical stand. Other times, suffering seems to have nothing to do with our faith. We get a bad report from the doctor or have a rebellious child. Sometimes, problems come suddenly and leave quickly. Other times, problems linger for months or years.

Third, suffering can be profitable. James 1:13 says, “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.” “Wait a minute,” you may be thinking. “First, James said the testing of our faith produces endurance. Then, he said when we are tempted, God has nothing to do with that; it is Satan who tempts us. What is the difference?” God tests us to strengthen our faith, while Satan tempts us to destroy our faith. Though we have two different English words, “test” and “tempt,” there is one word in Greek, “peirasmos.” “Peirasmos” means “a difficult situation.” When you are going through a difficulty in your marriage, your health, or your finances, God is in Heaven cheering you on. Jesus is praying that the difficult situation will strengthen you. At the same time, Satan is hoping the situation destroys you. Same situation, two different desired outcomes. Who determines what ends up happening? You do, by your response to that difficult situation.

James 1:3-4 says we should rejoice in difficult circumstances, “knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” This verse refers to a potter placing a clay pot into a firing oven. The purpose of that oven was to strengthen the pot. If the clay pot survived the testing oven, then it was approved. On the other hand, another piece of pottery placed in the same firing oven might break in the oven. For some pieces of pottery, the fire strengthened them; for others, it destroyed them. When you go through a difficult situation, God wants that testing to produce endurance and accomplish His purpose for your life.


Today’s devotion is excerpted from “For Those Who Hurt” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2018.

Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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